I've been struck by the beauty that painters through the ages have wrung from the humble tuft of weedy grass. Once again the lesson is that subject matter may easily be the least important aspect of painting. These paintings portray bits of leaf and stem that people pass hundreds of times without noticing. Art such as this helps to remind us that anything can become the basis for amazing, meaningful art if only it's seen for its expressive potential.
Here are some anonymous tufts of grass and bracken, a few bare, weedy shoots and branches to remind us that yes, spring really is going to come eventually.
Don't be fooled by the run-of-the-mill plant life in these! These works repay careful consideration and can tell us a lot about design work, compositional choices, the application of the paint, and the evocation of mood, even given the most unremarkable starting-places. Here is proof that the poetic and the sublime need not depend on grandiose or dramatic subject matter.
It ain't what you paint; it's how you see it.
The first three are by contemporary Philly painter Alex Kanevsky. Sorry about the lack of titles- I hope to clothe the naked paintings in them later.
One of the first western artists to elevate the tuft to the level of immortal representation is probably Leonardo, but here's a beautifully realized work by Albrecht Durer to look at instead.
|Albrecht Durer, The Large Piece of Turf, 1503|
Look how Ivan Shishkin can pull beauty out of the weeds!
Here'sa typical zen style painting of seemingly random bamboo shoots by Araki Jippo (1872-1944).
|Bamboo Shoots, Araki Jippo (1872-1944)|
Dennis Miller Bunker gets a shoutout not for painting individual pieces of turf so much as for helping to initiate the painterly attitude toward ordinary scenery still celebrated among plein air painters today.
|Dennis Miller Bunker, The Pool, Medfield, 1889|
And to bring it back around to the contemporary, I leave you with this one is by Robert Baart and an invitation to participate by drawing my attention to your own favorite paintings of the most commonplace little clumps of natural beauty.
|Robert Baart, Water Sedge|